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Here are key FAQs about Phillies' offseason

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- If the Phillies had not collapsed with a 17-34 finish, they could have been hosting the Dodgers on Thursday night in Game 1 of the 2018 National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park.

Instead, they are preparing for a highly anticipated offseason. Here is a look at a few frequently asked questions:

PHILADELPHIA -- If the Phillies had not collapsed with a 17-34 finish, they could have been hosting the Dodgers on Thursday night in Game 1 of the 2018 National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park.

Instead, they are preparing for a highly anticipated offseason. Here is a look at a few frequently asked questions:

Why are the Phillies downplaying the upcoming free-agent market?
The most obvious answer is that the Phillies don't want to tout the class, only to lose the Bryce Harper or Manny Machado sweepstakes. It is expected that Philadelphia will pursue both, but will only be able to sign one. There are other players entering the free-agent market, including left-hander Patrick Corbin. The Phillies could sign Harper or Machado and still add significant payroll elsewhere.

"This ownership group has demonstrated that it's not afraid to have a payroll in the top five," Phillies president Andy MacPhail said Tuesday. "It's our hope to get back there."

• MacPhail sees big picture: 'We were in contention'

It is true that one player will not save the Phillies, like MacPhail said. But putting Harper or Machado into the middle of the Phillies' lineup for the next 10 years sure would help a few of their problems.

What about trades?
The Phillies cannot expect to solve every problem via free agency and the development of their young players. They might need to make a few trades, too. Outfielder Odubel Herrera, second baseman Cesar Hernandez and third baseman Maikel Franco would make some sense as trade candidates.

• GM Klentak discusses 2018 season

What players are eligible for salary arbitration?
The list includes right-handers Jerad Eickhoff, Luis Garcia, Hector Neris, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez; left-handers Luis Avilan and Adam Morgan; first baseman Justin Bour; infielders Hernandez, Franco and Pedro Florimon; and outfielder Aaron Altherr.

Could any of those players be non-tendered?
Of course. The Phillies said they expect to make significant changes to the 40-man roster, which means some of these players will not return. Bour has no position with Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana on the team. Garcia posted a 6.07 ERA in 59 appearances, but the Phillies might look at his 3.51 FIP as reason to keep him. It seems Franco's time is coming to an end, if one wants to read between the lines with one of MacPhail's comments on Tuesday.

• 5 key questions for Phillies heading into 2019

"I've got Franco hitting .330 in July and then backing it up with a .240 in August. I mean, the other team, maybe they'll find the key," MacPhail said.

Utility players can be replaced, putting Florimon on the bubble. Really, it would not be surprising to see anybody other than Nola not on the roster next spring. Some of these players could be traded after they are tendered contracts.

Which players are free agents?
The foursome includes left-hander Aaron Loup, catcher Wilson Ramos, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and outfielder Jose Bautista. Ramos hit well when he played and manager Gabe Kapler praised Bautista's influence in the clubhouse, but it is difficult to imagine the Phillies resigning any of these players.

Who do the Phillies need to protect in the Rule 5 Draft?
The Phillies might have to put a few prospects at risk, considering the current and future makeup of the roster. Top 30 prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft are right-hander Adonis Medina (No. 3), shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa (No. 11), second baeman Daniel Brito (No. 12), infielder Jose Gomez (No. 16) and right-hander Tom Eshelman (No. 27).

Medina is the No. 64 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. There is no question he will be protected.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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